Tecsun PL-990 and H-501 may be the last high-end shortwave portables from Tecsun

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor from China, Mei Tao, who writes:

I would like to share the latest news about Tecsun’s New Products: the PL-990 and H-501.

These day I found that several Chinese BCLers who received the PL990 or H501 one after another–they posted many a detailed pictures of these two radios. Lots of my friends asked me when they could buy these two radios on the market.

Then I asked the Tecsun’s boss, Mr Liang.

He replied that they had begun to supply the PL-990 and H-501, but there were only a quantity of 300 in the first batch. These radios were first supplied to the subscribers who pre-ordered PL-990 or H-501 in October. Therefore other customers would have to wait for the second or the third batch. As for the foreign BCLers, I believe the wait time will be longer.

In addition, there is a bit of bad news: Mr Liang told me that PL-990 and H-501 were the last products he led the team to design, and they were his last masterpieces. In other words, the PL-990 and H-501 may be Tecsun’s last high-end portable and desktop radios. What a pity!

Thank you for sharing this, Mei Tao. Yes, that would be a pity indeed if the PL-990 and H-501 end up being the last high-end portables from Tecsun. I suppose it’s not surprising, though, as I’m sure some of the demand for shortwave radios is on the decline at the same time so many inexpensive DSP-based portables are saturating the market.

Two years ago I heard from a reliable source that Tecsun might be pulling the plug on their high-end portables, so I was quite surprised when I saw the PL-990 and H-501 announcements earlier this year. I suppose these models could be a “last hurrah” and certainly a way to mark the PRC’s 70th anniversary (as we’ve seen on some of the radios’ promotional material).

Regardless, I’m looking forward to reviewing both of these radios. Frankly, I’m quite happy a few hundred production models are in the hands of enthusiasts in China. Hopefully early adopters have given critical feedback to Tecsun so that when the first major production run is exported, the units will have been well-vetted and solid performers.


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14 thoughts on “Tecsun PL-990 and H-501 may be the last high-end shortwave portables from Tecsun

    1. Thomas Post author

      I’ve heard Tecsun is attempting to make a production run by Chinese New Year 2020 (February time frame). Keep in mind though, I’ve heard no updates as of late, so not sure if they’re still on schedule.

      Reply
  1. Adam Ebel

    Now this makes sense, because Tecsun products are supposed to be affordable and reliable for hobby and travel use. Making high end portable radio equipment is only going to go so fae e and reach people who have deep pockets to spend lots of money for just 1 short wave radio receiver. Tecsun is doing the right thing and start coming out with PL series radio receivers with SSB and selectable filters with a special chipset that will make it available again, and hopefully get into making affordable receivers again with HD Radio, and DRM in the future. Making these high end portables is not going to reach everyone, only the ones who can afford high end equipment. There are better ways out there to make things accessable and reach people such myself, my friends and family who can be able to afford to listen to SW radio. I am very happy with the $22 analog portable radio called the R9012 receiver that has good sensitivity and it only takes 2 AA batteries, and this is a good example for a everyday portable SW receiver. Tecsun is not all about fancy products, they are trying their very best to look out and care for others who want to get started in the hobby in short wave radio listening, and soon Amateur Radio, maybe one day Tecsun will come out with some new affordable HF transcievers and also Base communication receivers with components that perform well and make it affordable to own in the future.

    Reply
  2. Mike Bennett

    …well, if NOT Tecsun manufacturing SHORTWAVE radios anymore, than who will replace them? And what about all of this hokey about digital radio (AM-IBIQUITY, IBOC,DRM, DAB, etc.), and how far can digital waves travel compared to AM analog?

    Reply
  3. Craiger11

    Wow that is somewhat surprising and then again not. Over the past few years is when I rediscovered short wave radio listening. Tecsun is the one company I grabbed and ran with as my radio of “re entry” as they offered a nice range of price and performance. Mind you I started this radio DXing back in the early 1960’s.
    Media has really changed since then. Magazines, once common items on my coffee table has been replaced by electronic viewers such as smart phone, tablet or laptop and yes… THE portable radio.
    I’ll admit that radio may not be as much fun as watching a video on the same topic. None the less… Radio is a non linear medium, one can do many things while listing to the radio. Try and perform the same tasks with any other media, RADIO beats them hands down. I love taking the time to get comfortable with the radio and tune the band(s) trying this and that.
    I must say the SDR tuners have not really stirred my soul. The DSP tuned radios are such a interesting departure from what I grew up with that it took awhile for me to embrace them, having said that I really am somewhat interested in the digital transformation in A.M. mode. Could digital be what would revive Amplitude Modulation broadcasting ? Nothing will happen if the radios that tune these new modes are not built. Back when there was a brief push for A.M. Stereo, there was just not enough to sustain that and it faded away. What ever the direction, I’ll always have some radio by my side.
    I don’t know the answer to Over The Air Digital Broadcast Band, how will that effect the world wide broadcast ?

    Reply
  4. Mark Coady

    Yet, the innovative features developed by Tecsun and other manufacturers are not going away as they are being incorporated into today’s amateur radio HF transceivers. To keep going in shortwave radio will require getting your amateur radio license. It’s not that daunting a task. I did it!

    73 DE
    VA3MYC/VE3LJQ

    Reply
    1. Andrew

      That’s really SAD news, but it wasn’t unexpected, see all in all, companies make money from “the market”, this means “end users” and if the market asks for FM/DRM/digital radios instead of seeking for analogic, “high performance” one, a company has to either adapt or disappear 🙁 that’s, in my very humble opinion, the result of spreading DRM and other modes and, at the same time, moving away from regular BC (AM and SW) radio transmissions; sure, digital modes allow more “fidelity”, less bandwidth usage and additional features, but then it’s way more “controllable” than plain “analogic” transmissions, this in turn means giving the government additional censorship power

      It’s a really SAD thing (and not just for the Tecsun decision, they’re just “going with the market”), I hope it won’t happen, but I envision a future in which we’ll see just a small number of (older and older) people using analog radio and enjoying scanning the bands, while the “mass” will go for digital and totally loose whatever real freedom of information, then, the trend will probably leave just a bunch of “pirates” which will keep running analog transmitters (and receivers) for some time, after that … silence

      Again, hope it won’t happen, but then, if you look around, my guess seems to have quite some ground

      Reply
    2. Max

      You are saying that companies like Yaesu, Kenwood, Icom are using Tecsun technology…this makes me laugh.
      Then you are saying that an amateur radio licence is needed to buy one of these receivers (or transceives), this makes me laugh again…
      The high end models are disappearing just because the DXer and the SWL do not need and do not want them.

      Reply
  5. Mei Tao

    it’s my pleasure to share the news with all of you. In October, i have helped Tecsun tested PL990 and compared PL990 with sony ICf-7600Gr?PL680?sangean 909X. in the meantime i made some videos which i shared with my Chinese friends.now you can see some of these videos in the youtube. then i gave Tecsun my feedback and returned PL990 to Tecsun.

    Reply
    1. Gaétan Teyssonneau

      Hello Mei Tao
      I do not know how to do I would have liked to receive a free prototype of tecsun pl 990 For short waves.
      Someone who will be contacting?
      Have a good day

      Reply

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